Orlando Hernandez hasn’t thrown a pitch in anger in the big leagues since 2007, and he hasn’t thrown a pitch anywhere this year, but he had not announced his retirement. Until now. At least according to multiple Tweets to that effect, most notably by Jon Heyman.
El Duque pitched nine seasons in the majors, most memorably with the Yankees, for whom he was a key part of their 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Series championships. He got another ring with the White Sox in 2005. In those nine seasons he went 90-65 with an ERA of 4.13 while registering 1086 strikeouts to 479 walks.
But Hernandez was obviously more than a line of stats and some World Series rings. One of the most celebrated Cuban baseball players ever, he famously defected in December 1997. The story was that he was on a leaky raft, risking life and limb. The reality was that he was on a fishing boat with a big-ass engine, and once he reached the Bahamas he was flown to New York on a chartered jet. Hey, it’s showbiz.
Most famously, of course, and certain to be the subject of lots of one-liners as the morning wears on, was the matter of his age. He claimed to be 28 when he defected, but hardly anyone believed that. A few years later it was revealed in some leaked divorce papers that he was born in 1965. While Major League Baseball still lists a 1969 birth date for him, everyone else who matters — Baseball-Reference.com, ESPN, etc. — uses the 1965 date. There have been rumors, however, that he is much older still. It’s rather academic now, at least until he applies for medicare or wants to access his 401K or something.
Always a fun guy, and the dude that should probably have his picture next to the word “crafty” in the dictionary, El Duque — though he has been off the scene for some time — will be missed.
Joe Longo, the agent of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, said his client’s relationship with the Marlins is “irretrievably broken,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He believes in the best interest of both Yelich and the Marlins to work out a trade before the start of spring training.
They have a plan. I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career. He’s in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.
The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.
He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He’s had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.
This certainly comes as no surprise considering the offseason the Marlins have had after installing new ownership, going from Jeffrey Loria to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The club traded All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last season, as well as Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. As Crasnick notes, Yelich isn’t the only player to express disappointment with the Marlins’ current direction — J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro have as well.
Yelich, 26, signed a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension with the Marlins in March of 2015. Given his career performance, that’s a bargain of a contract, which is why more than a handful of teams have inquired with the Marlins about him this offseason. Yelich finished the past season with a .282/.369/.439 triple-slash line along with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances.